Early this afternoon in the U.K., a jet-lagged Roman Griffin Davis got word that he’d received his first Golden Globe nomination, for his first-ever screen performance in Taika Waititi’s ‘anti-hate satire’ Jojo Rabbit. At age 12, the actor is one of the youngest ever to be put forth by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
In the WWII dark comedy, based on a book by Christine Leunens, Davis stars as the titular Jojo Betzler, an avid member of the Hitler Youth who is furious when he learns that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in the attic. Joined in his dismay by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, young Jojo ultimately must make a choice between love and hate.
Born into an entertainment family, the son of cinematographer Ben Davis and writer/director Camille Griffin, Davis knew from a young age that he wanted to act. “In my household, we only really speak cinema and such, so we’ve got our own language. I used to always go to my father’s sets and see what he was shooting, and I always felt like I was at home, when I went to his set,” the actor told Deadline this morning. “I’ve always really admired the film industry and looked up to it, and looked up to people who can act. I feel it’s a great skill to be able to do.”
For Davis, the art and craft in acting was only part of its appeal; the job also served as a convenient means by which he could get out of school. “I remember one day, I was in the car, coming home from a restaurant. It was a Sunday night, and I remembered that I had school the next day, and I was like, God, I need to get out of school. So, I thought, how could I get out of school?” the crafty Golden Globe nom recalls. “I thought, well I’d have to be working, and the only place I could really work is in the film industry. Then I thought, I can’t do any of it, apart from acting. So, mum, could I get an agent?”
With his first Golden Globe nom under his belt, and a part in a starry independent film lined up for next year, Davis hopes in his burgeoning career to be able to continue to tell stories that matter. “I really want to be able to do films that have an important message, that are relevant for today, and which are kind of teaching people,” he reflects. “I think that’s the best part of filmmaking, is that you can show messages which people will actually learn from.”
In Jojo Rabbit, which was also nominated this morning for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Davis stars opposite Waitit, Thomasin McKenzie, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant and Scarlett Johansson, the latter of whom was nominated this morning, for her work in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.
At the Golden Globes on January 5, the actor will compete in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name) and Daniel Craig (Knives Out).
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